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Testimony of Ambassador Demetrios Marantis
Deputy United States Trade Representative
Senate Finance Committee
Thursday, May 26, 2011
*As Prepared for Delivery*
“Good morning Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Hatch, Members of the Committee, it is an honor and a pleasure to testify today about the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.
“We are here at a unique moment. Our economy is recovering, and exports of goods and services are up 17 percent. This export growth already has supported hundreds of thousands of additional American jobs.
“Within our grasp is the most economically significant trade agreement the United States has negotiated in nearly two decades. This agreement will strengthen our trade and investment ties to South Korea’s $1 trillion economy. It will bind a key strategic ally closer to us and help us keep our edge over international competition. Most importantly, the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement will create substantial export opportunities, establish strong enforcement provisions, and support tens of thousands of additional goods and services export-related jobs.
“When President Obama took office, many in Congress had serious concerns about this agreement, especially regarding autos and beef. This Administration shared those concerns. We heard you, and we took action.
“We leveled the playing field by addressing non-tariff barriers in Korea’s auto safety and environmental regulations. We encouraged green technologies by accelerating tariff reductions on electric cars. We negotiated a tariff structure that will give American auto companies and their workers a chance to build more business in Korea before U.S. tariffs come down. And we negotiated a new special motor vehicle safeguard.
“On beef, U.S. exports are steadily increasing to Korea. But we share the concerns of Chairman Baucus, his colleagues, and our ranchers about science-based access to the South Korean beef market. That is why Ambassador Kirk sent Chairman Baucus a letter on May 4th stating our intent to request consultations under the 2008 beef protocol to discuss its full application once the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement has entered into force. We also welcomed the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s plans to spend an additional $10 million in South Korea to promote U.S. beef exports to that market.
“With this important work behind us, today the Administration and Congress are together poised to unlock the enormous economic and strategic benefits of this agreement.
“Under this agreement, South Korea – already our fifth-largest agricultural market – will eliminate tariffs on two thirds of U.S. agricultural products immediately. Within five years of entry into force, this agreement will remove tariffs on over 95 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer good exports. This agreement will strengthen the United States’ role as an exporting powerhouse in services, guaranteeing access for our information and communications technology, express delivery, financial, and other services exports to South Korea’s $580 billion services market.
“Underpinning these new export opportunities are the Korea agreement’s state of the art provisions to protect and enforce intellectual property rights, reduce red tape, and eliminate regulatory barriers to U.S. exports. This agreement contains the highest standards for protecting labor rights, promoting the environment, and ensuring that key domestic labor and environmental laws are enforced.
“Taken together, these additional export opportunities mean more jobs for Americans. The tariff reductions on goods exports alone will lead to significant increases in U.S. exports to Korea that will support over 70,000 additional American jobs. More services exports to Korea will support tens of thousands of additional jobs. And fewer non-tariff barriers and stronger rules will support even more.
“This Administration is ready to move the U.S.-South Korea agreement forward as part of a comprehensive trade agenda that invests in our economy and our workers. As we have stressed repeatedly, we must keep faith with our workers by renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) consistent with the objectives of the 2009 program. TAA is a key component of President Obama’s trade policy, as it has been part of Democratic and Republican trade agendas for nearly half a century. We look forward to working with this committee to renew TAA, as well as reauthorize the expired trade preference programs, and unlock the benefits of this historic trade agreement with South Korea.”